NASHVILLE -- Vanderbilt's matchup with Alcorn State University on Friday (7 p.m. SEC Network+) will have a special feel to Commodores' athletics director David Williams.
Williams' late parents, David and Juanita Williams, met as undergraduates in the late 1930s at Alcorn State, a public, historically black university located in Alcorn, Mississippi. Now, for the second straight season, their son gets to watch his parents' alma mater take on the SEC program he has overseen for 15 years.
"Alcorn was such a major part of my life," Williams said. "So this is pretty cool."
David Williams Sr. arrived at Alcorn State from a small town in northwest Mississippi called Jonestown. Juanita, whose maiden name was Wallace, hailed from Jackson, Mississippi. After the two met at Alcorn, David left school in the summer of 1941 to join the military; he eventually went on to fly with the Tuskegee Airmen. Juanita would graduate from Alcorn State, and when the Williams family later relocated to Detroit, the younger David Williams recalls Alcorn playing a big part in their household.
"Alcorn was a centerpiece of our life mainly because of my mom," Williams said. "In Detroit, there was an Alcorn alumni association. My parents would go to every dance, every meeting and everything."
Last season, the Commodores' men's team hosted Alcorn State in a December 22, 2017 matchup at Memorial Gymnasium, beating the Braves 92-51. Williams did not have a hand in scheduling that matchup, but a bit of happenstance connected Vanderbilt and Alcorn for the first meaningful matchup to the Dores' AD.
Now Williams gets to experience his late parents' memories once again inside Memorial Gym.
"Don't get me wrong, I'll be rooting for Vanderbilt," Williams said. "But my mom would get a kick out of this. My dad would laugh at it. It's something you never think would come back around like this."